December 30, 2011

Clicky Clicky's Top 10s of 2011: MP edition

[Photo of Shit Horse at Habana Bar, Austin, TX 3/16/2011 during SXSW. Photo by Michael Piantigini.]

Twenty aught-eleven was one of those star-aligning years that gifted me with tons of music I like - This year's list is admittedly pretty heavy on my wheelhouse veterans, but how lucky to still get such strong stuff from bands like Buffalo Tom, Five Eight, and the friggin' Feelies! Having taken to heart The Long Winters' John Roderick's admonitions on top 10 lists (and let's hope he gets that new album out in 2012), I offer these 10 for '11 in alphabetical order. Tune in to Clicky Clicky Radio next Thursday, 8-10 pm eastern, and I'll play lots of stuff from these and other great 2011 releases!

Buffalo Tom Skins (Scrawny)
With guitars big and autumn gentle, these beloved Boston mainstays returned with their strongest album in years, and one that could stand up to the reminiscing of their 25th anniversary celebrations later in the year (reviews: night 1/night 2/night 3). [review/buy]

Eleventh Dream Day Riot Now (Thrill Jockey)
Chicago's legends-in-certain-circles take their time and make records when they're ready. Riot Now turns up after a five year gap and Rick Rizzo's feedback and Janet Beveridge Bean's harmonies were worth every moment of the wait. [buy]

The Feelies Here Before (Bar/None)
This year's lottery of unlikely new albums was won by The Feelies who, speaking of gaps, waited 20 years to make their new one. And it sounds just like The Feelies - and I mean that as high praise. [review/buy]

Five Eight Your God Is Dead To Me Now (Iron Horse)
Long-running Athens, GA stalwarts Five Eight take a stand on their 2011 album. They may offer more grown-up perspectives, but never grew out of a youthful existential dilemma. If we're being honest, who does? They continue to strike a nerve. [buy]

Fucked Up David Comes To Life (Matador)
Huge. Just... HUGE. [buy]

The Rationales The Distance In Between
The debut full-length by these Boston Americana-rockers is a warm, guitar comfort food blanket with pop hooks that keep the songs in your head. [buy]

R.E.M. Collapse Into Now (Warner Brothers)
Admittedly, sentimental reasons might have been reason enough for me to put the final R.E.M. album on the list, but this is legit - Collapse Into Now is great on its own terms and is the best R.E.M. album since at least 1996 (put another way: their best in a generation!). A worthy swan song for a band that spent most of their last 15 years in the wilderness. [buy]

Kurt Vile Smoke Ring For My Halo (Matador)
Wherein which Kurt Vile continues to outdo himself with his best batch of songs yet. In the alt-rock (and what-have-you) world, producer John Agnello's credits are untouchable: from Dinosaur Jr to Drive-By Truckers and Sonic Youth to Son Volt (among MANY other greats), he has helped shape the sound of alt rock (and such) for more than a generation. Here, he translates Kurt Vile's stoner daydreams into a lush, earthy headphone cinemascape. [buy]

Wild Flag Wild Flag (Merge)
OK, I'll admit it - if I were numbering the list, this'd likely be number one with a bullet. Has anything so highly anticipated delivered so solidly? Don't see how it would be possible to see them live and not think they're huge rock stars. Now if we can only get people to stop yelling "put a bird on it" at their shows. [buy]

Wussy Strawberry (Shake It)
Wussy's been quietly churning gems out of Cincinatti for a decade (much like co-gutarist/vocalist Chuck Cleaver's band Ass Ponys did for the decade before that), and Strawberry just about snuck out in the last month or so. It's both barnstorming ("Pulverized," for one) and beautiful ("Magnolia," for another). Do your ears and soul a favor and go buy this now and then make your way through the rest of the catalog. [buy]

Bubbling under:
Office of Future Plans - S/T (Dischord)
Obits Moody, Standard and Poor(Sub Pop)
Megafaun - S/T (Hometapes)
And, let's face it - pretty much everything else Merge produced this year, especially Wye Oak's Civilian, Apex Manor's The Year of Magical Drinking, and Mountain Goats' All Eternals Deck [buy]

My 11 favorite shows of '11, in brief and chronological. A bit heavy on the SXSW, as you can see, but it was a fun one:
-Reigning Sound at the Magic Room Gallery - February 17, 2011 [review]
-Shit Horse at Habana Bar - March 16, 2011 (SXSW) [photos]
-Wild Flag at The Parish - March 18, 2011 (SXSW) [photos]
-Eleventh Dream Day at Yard Dog - March 19, 2011 (SXSW) [photos]
-Alejandro Escovedo at The Continental Club - March 20, 2011 (post-SXSW) [review/photos]
-Joe Pernice/Scud Mountain Boys at the Lizard Lounge - August 25, 2011 [review/photos]
-Jeff Mangum at Jordan Hall - September 10, 2011 [review]
-Tommy Keene with Doug Gillard at Church on September 11, 2011 [photos]
-The Low Anthem at Somerville Theatre (and outside) - October 20, 2011 [review]
-The Hush Now/Soccer Mom/Chandeliers at Precinct - October 22, 2011
-Buffalo Tom at Brighton Music Hall - November 25, 2011 (25th Anniversary shows, night 1) [review]

-Michael Piantigini

December 28, 2011

Varsity Drag with Chin Strap, Suicide Dolls, and 7CS | Church of Boston | 29 Dec.

Varsity Drag close out 2011 at Church, December 29, 2011
You know you want to. Facebook Event pagina right here.

Clicky Clicky's Top Albums Of 2011: Jay Edition

Clicky Clicky's Top Albums Of 2011 -- Jay Edition
And here we are at the end of 2011. If you had told us a year ago that the things which transpired this year were coming, we would not have believed you. While for much of the year, and much to our frustration, music had to take a back seat to real life, that only increased its importance to this writer. Cross-country flights soundtracked by Broken Shoulder. Getting up to speed mornings listening to Rival Schools. Quiet weekends with J Mascis, summer vacation with Algernon Cadwallader and The War On Drugs, doing dishes with the The Henry Clay People. And when we could, we saw shows that kept us smiling long after they were over, not the least of which was the seismic bill we co-presented in late October featuring The Hush Now, Soccermom and Chandeliers. We even found time to draft major pieces on favorite acts Haywood (here) and Johnny Foreigner (here). But largely constraints on our time and tons of stress often meant quality over quantity when it came to the blogging life; fortunately in 2011 there was no shortage of exceptional music to keep us sane. Below are our favorite 10 records of the year. We are very excited for what 2012 will bring, even if it only brings a little more time to catch up on everything we didn't have time for in 2011. Thanks for reading. Stick with us, there's a lot more Clicky Clicky where this came from.
1. Johnny Foreigner -- Johnny Foreigner vs. Everything -- Alcopop!
Now that it's here, it's hard not to feel like everything was leading up to it, from the band's very first single in 2007 onward. Johnny Foreigner vs. Everything is a fully DIY proposition that is remarkable in its vivid realization -- especially considering the small amount of money involved in creating it. It's also a defiant statement from a band that has fought for everything it has got, including its continued existence. As fronter Alexei Berrow told us here in October, "It feels like there are a lot of people waiting to be like 'O Johnny Foreigner fucked up, inevitable, how predictable.' Vs. Everything is us making these possibly imaginary folks eat their stupid words." And, man, the record delivers the fire and hope, the desperate melodies and sublime sentiments. If you haven't already, make sure you hear the best record of 2011.
[review / buy / Spotify]

2. Benjamin Shaw -- There's Always Hope, There's Always Cabernet -- Audio Antihero
While this list of favorite records for the most part illustrates which albums we listened to most in the last 360 or so days, it also speaks loudly about what we value in the music we spend our time with. Benjamin Shaw's There's Always Hope, There's Always Cabernet is perhaps the best example of what we value most: an artist with a singular personality, a unique vision or world view that is ably and creatively captured in the stereo field. Mr. Shaw's chamber pop showcases a charming dourness and humor, cloaked within deftly arranged guitar, piano, strings and ambient curiosities. His vocal delivery is remarkably personal, and the resulting collection here is as cozy as it is ghostly. Each song presents soft and sharp elements, like a bag full of knitting, while making sure that there are as many melodic hooks as there are noisy cul-de-sacs. It's enchanting, and it is easily one of the best of the year.
[preview / buy / Spotify]

3. Age Rings -- Black Honey -- Midriff Records
The one that almost got away, Black Honey was shelved for more than a year during its difficult gestation. Somehow band fronter Ted Billings was able to gather up inspiration that had sifted through his fingers and complete the collection, some four years on from its inception. It's a marvelous, rootsy rock record with a vast arsenal of hooks supporting Mr. Billings' raw, heart-on-sleeve sentiments and wry sense of humor. Black Honey is a thrilling collection, from the bombastic openers "Rock and Roll Is Dead" and "Black Hole" to the haunting closer "Caught Up In The Sound." It was a real feather in local dynamo Midriff Records' cap to be able to put it out, and it feels like a gift every time we listen to it.
[review / buy / Spotify]

4. Destroyer -- Kaputt -- Merge Records
Oh, how we loved this one from the very first time we put it on, perhaps the most obvious sign that even before we climbed all the way up the umbilical noose of '80s MTV, we were immersed irretrievably in early '80s commercial radio. It bothers us that Kaputt is viewed by many as tongue-in-cheek (the video for the album's title track didn't help matters), as we genuinely love the recycled soft-rock sounds and "Miami Vice"-cool found on the record just about as much as all the "critically compliant" Brotherhood vibes. Of course, embossing Destroyer auteur Dan Bejar's characteristic witover top of Kaputt's confections makes it that much more irresistable. Every song on the record is a hit, and it is at the top of mind every time we sit down to put on a record. Another Bejar coup.
[buy / Spotify]

5. The War On Drugs -- Slave Ambient -- Secretly Canadian
We listened to this for hours and hours in the middle of a hot summer, and it reminded us of the boiling South Philadelphia summers of our mid-20s. The city's unbroken mesh of hot brick rowhouses, each one its own oven, windows thrown open to the constant street noise, noise that buzzes like the constant aural din that underpins Slave Ambient. A din, we'd argue, that is like a dialect unique to Philadelphians. We long for our days in that city often, and in a way Drugs fronter Adam Granduciel has given us the gift of hearing a piece of our history again amid his hypnotic, mesmerizing creation. Slave Ambient's icy coctail of Philly FM radio and motorik reverie gets better every time we indulge it. Each time we put the collection on we nudge the volume knob northward to sit back and bathe in a Bartowski-esque Intersect of musical data points, freejacking decades of Petty, U2, the Dead and on and on and on and on...
[review / buy / Spotify]

6. Algernon Cadwallader -- Parrot Flies -- Hot Green/BSM
More Philly, people. This time it's fist-banging anthems, lightning in a bottle, youthful vigor. Few things make us wish we were young again, but Parrot Flies is one of them. Somewhere in all the caterwauling and rocking out, there is a well-spring of positive vibes so potent that it not only has the ability to brighten our days now, but also to inspire in us the strange belief that we could go back and enjoy by-gone days more if only we had had Parrot Flies on one side of a C-90 stuffed in the dashboard tape player. Emo the way it was meant to be written and performed by dudes who do it themselves, from recording to touring to releasing their record. To steal a line from Stars, "when there's nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire." Algernon Cadwallader live it, and Parrot Flies is so much delicious proof.
[review / buy / Spotify]

7. The Hush Now -- Memos -- Self-Released
They did it. The Hush Now's third record is a triumph of melody, of songwriting, of will. For years the band has been slugging it out in Boston, turning in increasingly dominating live sets, and finally, with Memos, the band released a recording that matched in execution the passion and energy characteristic of their visceralperformances. And beyond Memos just sounding good and feeling good, it touts the best set of songs the quintet has turned out yet, from the jaw-dropping ballad "Sitting On A Slow Clock" (which featured on our year-end songs list here) to the scorching guitar pop anthems that the band has made its stock-in-trade, Memos delivers, and we can't imagine the overground won't come calling for these guys soon enough.
[review / buy / Spotify]

8. Ringo Deathstarr -- Colour Trip -- Sonic Unyon
It took four years to get it, but we can't say it wasn't worth the wait. On the tail of an increasingly convoluted string of singles and EPs (different collections in the USA, UK and Japan with different configurations of songs, something of a collector's nightmare), Austin-based noise pop behemoths Ringo Deathstarr finally issued a debut full-length. It's an arresting amalgamation of shoegaze, punk and even dance-pop, and it's awesome. The trio is having better luck in other markets (it just toured supporting Smashing Pumpkins abroad and had a few dates in Japan with Johnny Foreigner), but Colour Trip gained some significant traction for The Deathstarr here. And we ask you, what's not to like? The record is a perfect calling card for the band's power, style and attitude, and listeners that write the band off as a My Bloody Valentine clone are both missing the point and just not listening.
[review / buy / Spotify]

9. Soccer Mom -- You Are Not Going To Heaven -- 100m
...the power and the glory, forever and ever, amen. You Are Not Going To Heaven is an exhilarating collection, from the Sonic Youth-styled buzzsaw of "(A) Natural History" to the blackout bludgeoning of the final 30 seconds of "Southern Bells." All six songs here are dynamite. Perhaps the only thing more exhilarating is experiencing the quartet's firestorm live. We honestly feel bad for any band that has to follow these guys on a bill, because after The 'Mom levels the crowd with its blissful and desperate noise (via Dan Parlin's mad-dog death-grip head shake, the steady cool of guitarist Bill Scales and bassist Danielle Deveau, and drummer Justin Kehoe's octopus arms), that show's over, man. It's just over ("...grab your stuff and go and nobody goes to jail..."). This EP is huge, and we can't wait for the next batch of recordings. Boston's next big thing keeping getting better, if not nextier.
[preview / buy / Spotify]

10. Los Campesinos! -- Hello Sadness -- Arts & Crafts
In some way it is difficult to believe that the band that issued the scruffy Sticking Fingers Into Sockets EP in 2007 is the same act that crafted Hello Sadness. But there are a lot easy retorts to that sentiment, too, namely, well, it's just not the same band. The amount of living Tom, Gareth and the rest of Los Campesinos! have crammed into the last five years -- even if measured only by the 75 songs in our ITunes, you know, "band living" -- is quite astonishing. Hello Sadness is so emotionally broad and deep it is like the world's oceans, once you're in the water, it's just water going on forever, amazing songs like "To Tundra" and "Hate For The Island" so breath-taking there's no swimming across. There is a theoretic line between pop and art and this record is perhaps most remarkable for making that theoretic line so wide as one can not be pulled apart from the other at all. Amazing songs, amazing lyrics, so purposefully rendered.
[preview / buy / Spotify]

December 19, 2011

Out Now: Eldridge Rodriguez | Christmas On The Allston-Brighton Line EP

Eldridge Rodriguez -- Christmas On The Allston-Brighton Line
We made the coctails strong, we got the fire on... So let us be the latest to add our voice to the chorus of approval for Eldridge Rodriguez's jaunty holiday EP, Christmas On The Allston-Brighton Line. The three-song set -- the first in an annual series envisioned by the Boston-based feel-bad-pop luminary -- is as singular and as exciting as The Waitresses' "Christmas Wrapping," and as beautifully somber and evocative as Ted Pauly's "Christmas Eve, Molly Pitcher." Christmas On The Allston-Brighton Line caps a big year for Boston- and New York-based Midriff Records, which among other things also issued Eldridge Rodriguez' You Are Released in March. Mr. Rodriguez' live performance of You Are Released's "Run MF Run" was a highlight of the many shows we took in this year.

This new EP is led by the ridiculously catchy incantation "Baby, I'm Alone Tonight," which would be a certifiable hit in the overground were it dropped in the lap of a Top 40 "artist." As it is, the mid-fi production suggests the song was kind of dashed off. This isn't meant as a criticism; on the contrary, it suggests ER can bash out great songs with embarrassing ease. We picture him sunken in a worn, upholstered Bunker chair in his living room, fuzzy bunny slippers up, lazily surfing channels with the remote in one hand while he jots lyrics on the subscription card torn from a magazine and itches at his NicoDerm patch with the other hand. As clever a set of lyrics as ever turned out by Mr. Rodriguez, paired with cascading piano and guitar lines, makes the song a joy to play over and over again, and as we quipped to ER earlier today, the song cries out for a video treatment.

Christmas On The Allston-Brighton Line touts two additional numbers, the bouncing, roller-disco anthem "Christmas Eve (At The Old Country Buffet)" and the mellow gold of the snowy title ballad. The three songs come packaged with downloadable caroling sheets and alternate digital covers for all your desktop wall-papering needs. Buy the whole tomato at the Midriff store for three American clams right here; if you want to screw ER out of a little scratch you can instead buy the thing from any of the major digital music storefronts, which of course will take their cut and plow their record profits into price-checking jerkphone apps that will drive your friends' stores out of business. So, you know, whatever. When you coming back? When you coming back? When you coming back? When you coming back?

Stream "Baby, I'm Alone Tonight" via the embed below.

Eldridge Rodriguez: Hahahahaha | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

December 14, 2011

REPOST*: Clicky Clicky's Top Songs Of 2011: Jay Edition

Clicky Clicky's Top Songs Of 2011 -- Jay Edition
[*We accidentally deleted this post from late December; here it is in all of its glory once more. -- Ed.]
Well, rock fans, it was a really strange year, one in which we personally and professionally -- and, yes, even to a certain extent here on the blog -- accomplished a great many big things. And all the ups and downs -- transcendent live sets on local stages, solitary post-midnight walks across frozen parking lots in the midwest -- had their soundtrack. Below are our picks for the 10 best songs of the year. These, as usual, are largely determined by our raw ITunes playcounts, although we also gave a little more weight to recent releases that would have been otherwise penalized by coming along later in the year. The list, most of all, is a chance to point to standout songs, regardless of whether the records they are sourced from garnered a slot on our year-end albums list, which we hope to publish before 2011 is gone.

There is an almost complete Spotify playlist of all the tracks that you can access right here; we say almost complete because for whatever reason Spotify doesn't have or won't recognize The Hush Now's wonderful 2011 set Memos. In the few instances possible, we've augmented our copy with embeddable streams, as well, which among other things affords you the opportunity to listen to a nice live recording of Ringo Deathstarr's superlative dream-pop ode "Kaleidoscope." We're already looking forward to big things in 2012. Thanks for reading,and keep an eye out for our aforementioned year-end albums list -- as well as a list or two from Mr. Piantigini -- in the coming days.

1. Johnny Foreigner -- "You vs. Everything" -- Johnny Foreigner vs. Everything
[listen at Spotify]

We struggled over the decision to make this song our song of the year, as opposed to "Alternate Timelines Piling Up." And what it came down to is that while "Alternate Timelines..." is stunningly beautiful and sad, "You vs. Everything" is a self-empowerment song. It's up-tempo. And we need all the adrenaline we can muster these days. Johnny Foreigner is no stranger to anthems, but here the band has finally gone ahead and pointedly created a break-neck paced, fist-banging anthem for you and me. It's one highlight from their year-topping third full-length Johnny Foreigner vs. Everything, which we reviewed last month right here.

2. Rival Schools -- "The Ghost Is Out There" -- Pedals
[listen at Spotify]

Our love for the chorus of this song is boundless. The melody, the ease with which fronter Walter Schreifels looses the syllables from his lips with his immeasurably emotive (tired/sad/happy/wistful/learned/heartbroken) and scratchy voice, the lyrics: it all kills us every time. Remarkably evocative, and yet we haven't any real idea as to what this song is about. But that is a sure sign of excellent songcraft -- the emotion and melody are extremely potent even if the intent is equally as fuzzy. Sing with us, now: "floating in spaaaaaace, the ghost is out there, so you're not alone." We didn't review Rival Schools' 2011 record Pedals, but it kept us company on a lot of cold winter mornings in a far-off place early this year.

3. Benjamin Shaw -- "Home" -- There's Always Hope, There's Always Cabernet
[listen at Spotify]

There's Always Hope, There's Always Cabernet will be lucky if it garners footnotes in the year-end lists of the wider, music-writing masses. But the fact is that as soon as we heard the record we sort of felt like someone had handed us a suitcase stuffed with a massive amount of unmarked bills. Or kittens. Well, ghost kittens. With bloody fur around their mouths. Dressed up as tiny little brides and grooms, top hats and veils, little holes for the tails, the whole bit. But anyway, Benjamin Shaw's record is a massive achievement, one that offers a singular but remarkably whole and detailed world view. That is no more apparent than during this epic song. We've seen other writers discussing Mr. Shaw's record that seem to suggest that the rich sonic appointments get in the way of the presentation, of, presumably, Shaw's voice and acoustic guitar. We vehemently disagree. The production on Cabernet is magically vivid and balanced and perfect, as "Home" perhaps best exemplifies.

4. Los Campesinos! -- "Hate For The Island" -- Hello Sadness
[listen at Spotify]

Gareth Campesinos! continues to decry when necessary the application by misinformed writers of the label "twee" to his band's music. Perhaps if he could get everyone to listen to "Hate For The Island" as many times as we have, he can save his breath and go back to tweeting about football and dames. The song is perhaps the most convincing argument that can be made to support the idea that while Los Campesinos! clearly began it's career as scrappy indie poppers, the band's present and future is more cerebral. This song is almost art rock, and the artfulness with which it is made speaks volumes about the massive talent that is propelling the
collective into a band middle-age that seems more promising with each new record.

5. The Hush Now -- "Sitting On A Slow Clock" -- Memos
[listen at Soundcloud]

The show-stopper from the band's best-of-2011 album isn't a big guitar anthem -- well, there are those, too -- but this bar room ballad, the definitive live version of which the band delivered to open its triumphant tour homecoming show in October. We've written for years about The Hush Now, and have seen them at least a dozen times live, but the band was still able to surprise us with this heart-string tugger. When the horn solo gently nudges itself in the door, it reveals a heretofore unrevealed facet of the band. Fronter Noel Kelly, who provides the horn solo here, probably can't rival Chet Baker on brass, but certainly the vocal performance on "Sitting On A Slow Clock" is worthy of the classic Chet Baker Sings. We reviewed Memos here in September.

6. Ringo Deathstarr -- "Kaleidoscope" -- Colour Trip
[listen at Spotify]

Another of noise-pop phenoms Ringo Deathstarr's perfect pop songs, in the mould of its early gems "Sweet Girl" and "Your Town." As the band broadens its pallet to incorporate more dynamic, electronic rhythms and bassist Alex Gehring's vocal contributions become more prominent, it is nice to hear that fronter Elliot Frazer is still willing and able to return to this creative well, apparently at will. Slowly spiraling guitar chords, yearning vocals, simple but unbeatable melodies. "Have you seen her, she's a kaleidoscope...?" Perfection. Check out this awesome live version from last summer. We reviewed Colour Trip here in May.

Ringo Deathstarr - "Kaliedescope (Live)"

7. Age Rings -- "Caught Up In The Sound" -- Black Honey
[listen at Spotify]

Sadness and beauty and inevitability, this song's packed with all three and sheds chunks of all of them as its spring-loaded trudging drives the tune from behind a curtain at stage left, across the spotlit center stage, only to disappear behind the curtain at stage right, like a four-minute Beckett play. From its recursive opening lyric to the gently twirling backing vocal that carries it out, "Caught Up In The Sound" is a breathtakingly vivid, down-in-the-mouth love song. As we observed in our review, the song is the perfect closing track to the Midriff re-release of Age Rings' Black Honey, which we reviewed here in October.

Age Rings - Caught Up in the Sound

8. Destroyer -- "Kaputt" -- Kaputt
[listen at Spotify]

We were really afraid this record was going to get hated on by the wider critical populace of the Internerds, as we'd seen (and heard, on the Sound Opinions podcast) some express distaste for the latest collection from Dan Bejar's Destroyer. Not because we need to have our love for this validated -- the relative anonymity of certain of our selections are certainly a testament to that. But as we were saying to the Koomdogg during a forthcoming episode of the CompCon podcast, we just found it hard to believe that a songwriter known to be a shapeshifter (in the same vein as our hero Kurt Heasley of Lilys) was going to be penalized for making a record that many would prefer to pigeonhole derisively as "soft rock." Our pal Bill from Soccer Mom actually has a great genre identifier for the smooth sounds of Kaputt -- "errand rock" -- which references the music his mom played in the car during his suburban upbringing. We totally get that. But we also think that there is a sufficient amount of New Order present in Kaputt along with the other smooth sounds to satisfy even the snootiest indie rocker. Either way, the collection is wonderful, and its dreamy chorus immediately wormed its way into our head and has never left. "Sounds, Smash Hits, Melody Maker, NME, all sound like a dream to me..."

9. Algernon Cadwallader -- "Cruisin'" -- Parrot Flies
[listen at Spotify]

All of this song is wonderful, and, indeed, all of Parrot Flies is wonderful. But this song has a moment, a huge, huge moment, that makes it the defining song Algernon Cadwallader's sophomore set. It's when the singer is shouting -- and he's always desperately shouting -- something like "and there's nothing bittersweet about that, and now something, something something something THE CHINATOWN BUS something something something" etc. Having never taken the Chinatown bus, we don't know why we find the reference so evocative, but we do. Something about the freedom to make mistakes, the freedom of being young and unencumbered by Life's Big Things. Something about joy, which is something that pervades not only this song, but the whole of Parrot Flies. We reviewed the record here in August.

Algernon Cadwallader - Cruisin' by bsmrocks

10. The Henry Clay People -- "The Honey Love He Sells" -- This Is A Desert EP
[listen at Spotify]

This is a pretty damn excellent song, life-affirming in its outrageous pacing and punchy delivery. But what perhaps makes this so invigorating, such a breath of fresh air, is that we swear mere months before this EP came out, The Henry Clay People announced something like a hiatus from music. And as we quipped elsewhere, we're glad the hiatus didn't "take," because this song is a barnburner.

December 8, 2011

Night Fruit "Dark Horse" Single Release Party at The Pill | Great Scott, Boston | 9 December

Night Fruit single release party at The Pill, December 9, 2011
The local Internerds are aglow today with talk about Boston dream-pop trio Night Fruit's new single and the release show for it tomorrow night at Great Scott. The buzz is deserved, as the carefully sculpted and beautiful "Dark Horse" is an arresting piece of work. Spiraling and shimmering guitars and big vocal melodies from fronter Amanda Dellevigne make for a winning concoction of blissed, upbeat pop that gracefully decomposes in the song's final minute. A sure sign that the band is firing on all cylinders right now is that the B-sides are equally delicious, even if they employ the same alchemy; any of the tracks could be the lead number. "Paper Thin" succeeds on its strident rhythm and more buoyant, strong singing from Dellevigne, while "Bittersweet" uses a somewhat lighter touch in the verse to set off some squalling guitars in the breaks. Night Fruit previously released the EP Triangles in July 2010, a more gothic, Cocteau-inflected short stack -- highlighted by the tense closer "Lover" -- which you can snatch from Bandcamp for free right here. Night Fruit performs during The Pill dance night at Great Scott tomorrow night. You can stream the entire new single via the Bandcamp embed below, and also purchase the collection at the same link. Pre-orders shipped today, but we bet you all the fake Gingriches you've got that you can get your Romneys on a hard copy tomorrow. Here's the Facebook event page for the show.

Nightfruit: Internerds | Facebook | Bandcamp | YouTube

December 5, 2011

Rock Over Boston: Dear Leader | Brighton Music Hall | 12.04.2011

Dear Leader
[Dear Leader at Brighton Music Hall. Photo by Michael Piantigini. A few more here.]

Boston rock stalwarts Dear Leader have been laying low for the last little while, apparently gestating or something. What we last saw as a traditional rock and roll four piece has emerged from the cocoon with 4 guitar players, 2 keyboard players (one of them adding some accordion for good measure) and their bass and drum rhythm section.

They already sounded pretty huge. Aaron Perrino's nuclear power plant of a voice and knack for the anthemic is more Dear Leader's (and his other band's, The Sheila Divine, about whom more in a moment) trademark and signature sound than any number of guitars could ever hope to be. Their new songs, sprinkled throughout, gave a hint of what's to come though. Powerful as ever, the wider instrumentation makes a more nuanced bed for The Voice. It will be especially interesting to hear it all on a tape (as it were).

But first, as we were told from the stage, there's a new Sheila Divine album in the pipeline. I don't have an release date for you, but the proliferation of individual tracks available over on their Bandcamp page - several of which are available as freebies - find them as in as fine a form as ever.

The record release party is on the books for February 4th at the Paradise. There seems to be a lot of great rock music plans for the new year already.

-Michael Piantigini

Dear Leader: Facebook | Twitter | MySpace
The Sheila Divine: Bandcamp | Fanpage

December 3, 2011

Today's Hotness: Fashoda Crisis, The Hush Now, Adamada

Fashoda Crisis, Live, Sometime
[Photo: Fanny Von Beaverhausen] >> Essex, UK-based smartpunx Fashoda Crisis earlier this evening celebrated the release of their sophomore set Him They Make Learn Read. The official release date for the collection Him They Make Learn Read was 21 Nov., but pre-orders were still being taken up to today; fans who oblige receive an immediate download of the album, the video for "Animals" we posted here in August, and a lyric book. The album touts seven bracing and shouty rockers that lean heavily toward social commentary as declared by the commanding voice of fronter Simeon Ralph. Meaning you can think when you are banging you head, or when you are pointing your finger and singing along, you've got something to point about. We'd have liked to have been in England tonight for this one. If you've not yet availed yourself of the pleasure, stream Him They Make Learn Read right here.

>> The album cycle for Boston guitar-pop luminaries The Hush Now's best-of-2011 Memos [review here] has run its course, and the band's usual, welcome battery of holiday singles are upon us. Fans likely already have laid ears on the quintet's Halloween offering "The Legend Of Dudley Town," but fresh from the fryer is "Happy New Year, Dear." As the title suggests, this is the band's soundtrack for your year-end bubbly popping. Why not pour a drink now and have a listen to get yourself warmed up for the end of the last night of the year?

>> Here's another Hush Now-related item. While recent remarks on the Facebooks suggest that the lads are starting to focus on a fourth full-length, lead guitarist Adam Quane has released an album from "a belated project from a few years back" to the Internets, Adamada. The collection Spilling Upwards is stocked with eminently listenable tunes marked by a grungy psychedelia, but it's not without its pop moments, however: every time "June Tigers" comes on our IPod we think it is a very weird Death Cab For Cutie song. The catchiest moments on Spilling Upwards are likely found in the track "Designed By My Heart," which pairs cooly delivered vocals with spacy guitar leads resulting in a concoction that is as much Alan Parsons Project as it is The Cure. All of this record is quite good, check it out below.

>> Hardcore/post-hardcore journeyman Walter Schreifels plans to finish the follow-up to his amazing solo record An Open Letter To The Scene this month, according to this item at Pun Canoes a couple weeks ago. Mr. Schreifels hopes the collection, which he has been calling Jesus Is My Favorite Beatle, will be ready to release in the spring of 2012. We hope so, too, as Open Letter was our second-favorite record of 2010. Of the planned collection, Schreifels says "It's [a] more rootsy, borderline (don't be scared) country record for me."